British Cromwell hunts Whittman!

British Cromwell hunts Whittman!
A pic from a Fireball game at Fall In 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hue City, 1968

A few weeks ago Jonathan ran a Hue City game using FIreball Forward. Actually, the game was first developed for his Hue City scenarios.The game was a blast and his terrain was a usual outstanding. One of his original ideas was if the game looks great it only enhances the experience of the players...and he is right.

The only rules change we tried was ranged infantry fire. Basically Squads/teams have an effective range of 12-inches and a long range of 24-inches. MGs have 24 and 48 respectively. Fire at short range is a normal and at long range the 'white' die suffers a -1 penalty. It seemed to work fine and everyone playing liked it. Since this game we have used it in several others and it seems to work fine.

The hue City scenario models an action later in the fight where the marines are trying to move up to Phase Line Green and secure the Dong Ba Gate. Simultaneously the NVA are trying to hold the gate and push into the American deployment area. As the game went eh NVA were able to siege a US held building complex in effect bottling up their advance on the right flank but the US left supported by an M48 managed to fight its way to the Gate. But a stalwart group of NVA diehards managed to hold on and the US never got full possession of the Gate. It was a narrow NVA victory. Here are some great pics.

One other nice element the rules provided was the ability to model command and resilience (or lack of) for different troops. Jonathan felt the NVA leadership was distracted during this fight and they did not do good job of controlling their men. To simulate this we gave the NVA infantry a morale of 4+ but the leaders were 5+. Meaning the troops would break morale on a 3 or less but only rally on a 5 or 6. It worked great. The NVA got in one really good coordinated attack but when it broke down it was difficult for them to reform quickly and assault again.

More on the latest armor rules soon.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

The verdict on the new ranged fire rules

Well, last tuesday night we played a Hurtgen Forest scenario that was full of infantry and tanks. The new armor and infantry fire rules were used and we had a very interesting playtest experience. We had players that were very familiar with the new rules and players that were brand new to them. There was some unease as the game went on for two main reasons. 1. Players had no concept of the chances of a kill with the new rules. 2. The new rules meant we would have to totally rewrite the spotting rules.

The first point means that players had no idea how to implement proper tactics. The US armor commander (Tom Garnett) had no clue as to what range he should engage the German armor. He was right to feel that way. The older system used a handful of d6s needing 6s to cause damage. A player rolling 8d6 basically would know he would probably get at least one damage result. This simpler handful of d6 mechanic means that players know the effectiveness of their weapons without having to take a course in calculus. That is more in keeping with the philosophy of the rules.

The second point about changing the spotting really drove home that the new firing rules were basically changing the entire concept of the game. It was becoming one more reliant on exacting measurements and parceling out particular situations. This is a major point as we basically would be creating an entirely new game.

We all came to the conclusion that the original system was how we want the game to play. Simple rules that allow players to focus on tactics. So....when Jonathan returns from out of town we will sit down and figure out how to work his excellent data into our original handful of dice armor system...and the infantry fire will stay as it has been played since the beginning.

Thanks so much to all the playtesters. Not only did this help me understand how the game is helped me understand how gamers approach their hobby.

These new rules looked promising but in the end they were taking the game in an entirely new direction. Ultimately I hope to create a miniatures game that has the feel of the old Avalon HIll games 'Napoleon', 'Victory in the Pacific' or 'War at Sea.'


Monday, May 3, 2010

Ranged Infantry FIre Rules

On Saturday evening Sean, Adrian, Tom Ballou and myself played the second scenario in the Mark IV battalion mini-campaign and we tried a new take on infantry fire. Basically Jonathan reworked the firing system used for armor combat. Players resolve fire combat by rolling a certain number of 'damage' dice and a 'range' die. The range die can be modified by certain factors (a short list) and if the target is in whatever final range is determined, then the damage dice may have an effect. Everyone thought it played well although perhaps a bit more deadly...more playtesting will be needed to see if that is the case.

The jury is still out on all this. The advantage of the new take on infantry fire combat is that it matches the way we resolve armor combat so the system is the same across the rules. The disadvantage is it is a slightly more complex system. The complexity issue has not been a problem after players go through a couple of turns. But the original system was simple and elegant. A good test is always running the games at the big conventions. There I can see how players who have never played it before react to the feel of the game. So we will see what players at Historicon think about it.

If we do ultimately decide to not use this new system we will have to revamp the armor rules because I do feel that having one system across the rules is the way to go.